Early Book Review: Bad Houses by Sara Ryan and Carla Speed McNeil

Bad Houses is a graphic novel written by Sara Ryan, edited by Sierra Hahn, and illustrated by Carla Speed McNeil. It is scheduled for release on November 12th 2013. This graphic novel shows the intersecting lives of teens (or early twenty somethings) Anne and Lewis intersect at an estate sale in Failing Oregon. This town was once a thriving logging community, but the economy and the morale of the community are stating to crumble. as Anne and Lewis discover themselves, and each other, they also uncover secrets their parents and the town  have tried to keep hidden. Anne's mother's hoarding and new boyfriend stress Anne out as she tries to get her own life in order while sorting through the remaining affects of deceased people's lives.

Bad Houses was a unique and unexpected find. I enjoyed the detailed look at how very different people can cross paths and have large impacts on each other. I specifically enjoyed the main story or Anne and Lewis finding each other, and themselves, as they deal with the world around them. My least favorite character, AJ, is a man struggling with unemployment and putting his mother in a nursing home. He has anger management issues, and seems to lack in compassion and basic morals. Anne's mother is a more sympathetic character, but still not one I can say I would want to met. She is a hoarder and a chain smoker, and while unwilling to change for her daughter seems willing to take steps to make room for AJ in their home. One of the secondary stories, which intertwines the estate sale business with the mystery of Lewis's father, is my favorite part of the story and somehow managers to bring everything together in a perfect storm.

I would recommend Bad Houses to young adult, new adult, and adult readers. The read is intriguing, with illustrations serving as a perfect match to the actions and dialogue. I though the books had a feel of both horrifying realism and hope for the future. Readers that have dealt with any of the situations the characters in the book face, which include all sorts of major life changes, would find solace and some hope and understanding with being entertained by the read.
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